Help:Mapping a pipeline

From Global Energy Monitor

Pipeline routes are mapped as part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker (GFIT). This tracker provides interactive maps that allow users to visualize pipeline routes and the locations of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal terminals. A wiki page for each pipeline tracks funding, permits, and other factors such as opposition and impacts on the environment, health, land rights, pipeline workers, and communities through which pipelines are built.

Sample pipeline map

Here is a map and description of the route of the Permian Global Access Pipeline (PGAP) in Texas and Louisiana, USA.


The Permian Global Access Pipeline (PGAP) will run from Pecos County, Texas, USA through Midland, Texas, USA, ending in Gillis, Louisiana, USA.

Loading map...

Create mapping coordinates

Mapping pipelines involves collecting sets of GPS coordinate pairs that are strung together using wiki code.

Here is the code used to create the map for the Permian Global Access Pipeline above: {{#display_map: |lines=30.878829, -102.884212:31.996197, -102.081091:30.374349, -93.201005|center=31.996197, -102.081091|width=400|height=300|type=normal|zoom=4}}

  • Creating a point: mark a pipeline's starting point with its GPS coordinates. In the example above these coordinates are "30.878829, -102.884212".
  • Creating a line: mark a further point or the end point of a pipeline by adding a colon and a second set of coordinates. In the example above this second set of coordinates is "31.996197, -102.081091". Create further points using this same method.
  • Creating a center point: the map will be centered on this point. In the above example this point is "center=31.996197, -102.081091".
  • Creating a branch line: sometimes there will be a branch line (also called a lateral line) coming off of the pipeline's mainline, meaning a segment of the pipeline that branches off from the rest and has a different end point. In this case connect the two lines using a semicolon. Make sure that the starting coordinate pair of the branch line appear somewhere in the original line (ex.0.000,-0.000:1.000,-1.000;1.000,-1.000:2.000,-2.000). For an example of branch line coding see the Moomba Adelaide Pipeline System

Finding coordinates

Where do coordinates for pipeline routes come from? Unfortunately, exact coordinates aren't usually publicly available, so maps are usually generated with best approximations. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Try to find a visual representation of the pipeline from a reliable source such as a government or industry website. Often the owner's website will have a map. If you can't find an image, you can use the available text data, even if this means only plotting the start and end points. This is why even small details about location can be helpful.
  2. Once you find an image, you'll look for ways to identify where the pipeline runs geographically, such as town names, county names, jurisdictional dividing outlines, or even just geological identifiers like lakes or rivers. Combine this with the text information you already have on location, like start and end points.
  3. Go to Google maps and use the location identifiers you found in step two to find the actual coordinates. You'll decide how many coordinates to collect based on how complex the route is and how precise the original image you found in step 1 was. It's impossible to be completely accurate so please just do the best you can.
  4. When you find a point on Google maps that you want to get coordinates for, hover the cursor over that spot, right click, and select "What's here?" in the drop down menu. This will create a pop up box with the coordinates in it at the bottom of the screen.

Size and type of map

Here are guidelines for setting the map's size and zoom level with wiki code.

Example code for North Wapiti Pipeline: {{#display_map: |lines=55.009225, -119.116836:54.799231, -118.910388|center=54.799231, -118.910388|width=400|height=300|type=normal|zoom=8}}

  • #display_map: this creates the map with GPS coordinates
  • center: this is the point on which the map will be centered.
  • width: this sets the width of the map that appears on the page. The GEM standard is "width=400."
  • height: this sets the height of the map that appears on the page. The GEM standard is "height=300."
  • type: for pipelines use the type=normal setting to create an illustrated map.
  • zoom: this zooms the map in or out on the location. A good rule for existing projects is to use a zoom level that shows the whole project with the project's edges just inside the edges of the map. Play around with the zoom until it looks the most user friendly--zoomed out enough to see the entire pipeline and its geographic context, but zoomed in enough to not have too much redundant space.